You are in an unfamiliar city when your car crashes and you are injured. How are you going to alert emergency services and let them know where you are? What if you are too badly hurt to call for help?
Humaid Al Ali has an app that can do it all for you – and if his brainchild reaches the market, help would be on its way almost from the moment you have an accident.
The 22-year-old developed the iBump smartphone app with fellow American University of Sharjah students May al Merri and Nada Obaid.
“We noticed that most smartphones, such as the iPhone or the Galaxy, had accelerometers built in,” said Mr Al Ali. “But we needed to know how the app was going to recognise an accident based on the rate of speed in the mobile. We used a speech-recognition algorithm which is used for graphing data.
“When you hit [another car or object], you have a high pulse [in the data]. From the high pulse, you know it’s an accident rather than braking sharply – the shape is different. The accident pulse is very different from the one for braking.”
With help from the university’s mechanical engineering department, physical models were created to test the app.
“We can’t make a real accident to test the data so we had to simulate it,” Mr Al Ali said. “Based on the hardware model that we’ve built at the university, the accuracy in testing is 86 per cent.”
With a relatively high false-positive result, an override was built in to avoid police and an ambulance being sent to a trivial accident.
“The app will send a message right away when it detects an accident,” explained Mr Al Ali. “The alarm will sound on the phone and you have 30 seconds when you can press ‘cancel’, which sends another message saying it’s a false alarm.”
Emergency services who deal with serious injuries, such as those caused by road accidents, talk of the “golden hour” in which victims can be saved if help arrives quickly.
With instant reporting and precise location details, iBump eliminates two of the sources of delays that often eat into that golden hour.
Even if the phone does not have Global Positioning System built in, the app can triangulate the location from the signal from phone towers, albeit with less accuracy.
The iBump app was among more than 150 projects at the Think Science Competition in Dubai.
They included a smart bin developed by Mohammed Foolad, 23, and two colleagues from the University of Sharjah, which is less smelly, more environmentally friendly and can keep out feral cats.
“You pass your hand over it and it’ll open, so you don’t have to touch the bin,” he said. “It will close automatically after a minute. Of course this will prevent any bad smells.
“It will have a sensor to check when it’s full. If it is, it will send an SMS to the municipality so they can come and collect it. It saves journeys because the municipality only comes when the bin is full.”
* An earlier version of this article did not mention May al Merri as part of the team that developed the iBump app. It also wrongly attributed the creation of physical models to Mr Al Ali and Ms Obaid.